Burgeoning director Matthew Dillon Cohen is best known as the unseen hand behind Leaf and Lil Yachty’s “Nada” music video. In his latest project, Cohen departs from the familiar world of music and instead turns his lens to the underground sport of death match wrestling.

His gory yet oddly humanizing docu-style short, released last month, features wrestler Matt “The Bulldozer” Tremont. Tremont is the current world champion of Combat Zone Wrestling, and a far more normal dude than you might expect, especially considering the high risk, potentially fatal nature of the sport.

We reached out to Cohen to learn more about how the project came to be, and see what he learned from his subjects.

What was the inspiration behind the project?

A friend of mine works in the wrestling league. One day he started raving to me about Matt “The Bulldozer” and how his world revolves around death match wrestling. He’s the nicest guy outside the ring but when he steps in the ring he becomes “The Bulldozer,” a completely different person. I knew I had to explore the story further.

Why did you want to share the world of Death Match with the world?

It’s such a huge subculture that’s rarely talked about. The art itself is so intense – it’s this amazing mix of theatrics, acrobatics, attitude and violence. I was attracted to this really enthusiastic community that it draws from, and I wanted to do my part to show it to a wider audience.

What did you learn from your subjects?

Despite popular belief, there’s no real money involved with this form of entertainment. The majority wrestle in addition to their day jobs. Being able to see a whole group of performers who are genuinely in love with this industry was really exciting. Aside from the performers, the fans helped make sense of the whole thing; they are so committed and have this emotional connection to the performers that is really compelling.

Why are people attracted to participating in such a gory sport?

It’s just like any other sport – they do it for the glory. In this case it’s just a bit more mentally and physically threatening to get there.

Also take a look at how Twitter users reacted to Kendall Jenner’s controversial Pepsi ad here

  • Director/Producer: Matthew Dillon Cohen
  • Director of Photography: Anthony Carella 
  • Associate Producer: Giancarlo Dittamo
  • Gaffer: Patrick Golan
  • Focus Puller: Carmelo Varela
  • Sound Recordist: Brian Neris
  • Editor: Matt Schaff 
  • Original Score: Alexander Mendoza
  • Sound Design: Raphaël Ajuelos
  • Colorist: Josh Bohoskey
Words by Stephanie Smith-Strickland
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